Sea Turtle Answers

  • How many total miles has the turtle traveled? What is the average daily distance she has traveled? What has her average daily speed (mph) been?

    Total distance traveled = approximately 939 miles
    Average daily distance = 26.1 miles per day (939 miles divided by 36 days)
    Average speed = 1.1 miles per hour (939 miles divided by 864 hours)

    This turtle was traveling a good deal faster than other average speeds recorded for loggerheads. Most published swimming speeds for this species are based upon recaptures of marked turtles after a migration. These speeds ranged from 28.1 to 40.2 km/day (12.8 to 18.3 mi/day). Tucker et al. obtained estimated swimming speeds from adult female Caretta towing satellite transmitters. During their internesting movements they averaged 0.45 km/h (0.2 mph). (From The Biology of Sea Turtles edited by Peter L. Lutz and John A. Musick, CRC Press, 1996.)

  • Describe the movements of the turtle. By looking at her movements, can you tell if she is migrating, nesting, or feeding?

    The turtle swims offshore in the Atlantic Ocean, swims near shore into the protected waters of Albemarle Sound and Pamlico Sound, and also comes onshore sometimes. She is gradually migrating south. When she comes near shore she is probably looking for food, and when she goes onshore she is either nesting or looking for food.

  • Do you see some points on your tracking map which look suspicious? Where are they, and how do you explain them?

    You will notice down at the bottom of your map two points (#58 & #59) which are far inland. These two points are suspicious because normally a sea turtle would not travel this far onshore. Each data point transmitted from the satellite has a varying degree of accuracy, so these two points are probably examples of lower accuracy readings.

  • Why is she traveling in the direction that she is? What environmental factors might influence her movements?

    The turtle is moving south, following warmer waters. At the first cold snap, sea turtles will leave the Virginia/North Carolina area. By November or December they are usually in Florida, and by January or February they have moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Photoperiod or daylength is another environmental factor which motivates sea turtles to migrate south in the winter.